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Old 10-16-2012, 08:36 AM   #1
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


Hi everyone. My wife and I recently bought two pristine wooded acres and plan to build a home soon. We've looked at thousands of house plans and can't quite find the one we want, though many come close. The prices to have the plans modified are disappointing, so I started looking into other options. The plan we have in mind is a fairly simple 1.5 story country home, around 2400-2600 sf. I've looked at several "prosumer" grade programs (~$500), my question is, could I really build a home from plans created in one of these programs? Has anyone done it before?

I think I could accept the expense of having custom plan drawn up, but if I can do it myself and save a bundle I will.

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:04 AM   #2
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


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Originally Posted by bigburb View Post
Hi everyone. My wife and I recently bought two pristine wooded acres and plan to build a home soon. We've looked at thousands of house plans and can't quite find the one we want, though many come close. The prices to have the plans modified are disappointing, so I started looking into other options. The plan we have in mind is a fairly simple 1.5 story country home, around 2400-2600 sf. I've looked at several "prosumer" grade programs (~$500), my question is, could I really build a home from plans created in one of these programs? Has anyone done it before?

I think I could accept the expense of having custom plan drawn up, but if I can do it myself and save a bundle I will.
You might run into problems with permits and contractors if you don't do the plans in the way they are used to seeing. People spend years in college learning CAD -- I think the programs will be fully capable of making usable plans, but I wouldn't think it would be worth learning a program to make one plan, any more than it would be worth learning programming to make one website.

Just out of curiosity - how much are you getting quoted to modify an existing plan, or have one made from scratch? I'd find a plan that was close, put the exact changes I wanted made in writing, then shop it around -- if you give exact specs you should get lower bids, because they'll factor less back-and-forth time into their estimate.


Last edited by tibberous; 10-16-2012 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:36 AM   #3
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


Its been a while, but the plan was around 1000 and to detach the garage and change it from crawl space to slab was another 1000. I can't imagine those small changes doubling the cost of the plan. For that price I could almost have custom plans drawn.

Home Designer is a quasi-CAD program, more geared for home plans and easier to use. I wouldn't put it on the same difficulty level with typical CAD programs, however, I'm not sure I'd put it on the same quality level either (that's what I'm here to find out)
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:56 AM   #4
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


The cad program you choose will not build the plan for you.
An experienced designer/design professional is the one that builds the plans and creates the construction documents that you will need in order to get permits and have contractors build from.

For your situation I figure I would be more like 5k provided your home is capable of being constructed using prescriptive, light frame construction means.

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:14 PM   #5
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


I don't think any professional builder is going to accept plans developed by an amateur, except maybe as a starting point. When we were designing our log home, I bought a simple program (3D Home Architect, as I recall) for around $50. That was good enough to develop the layout we wanted. As part of the price of the house kit, the log home company developed the blueprints necessary to get a permit and build the house.
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Old 10-17-2012, 05:58 AM   #6
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Has anyone actually built a home from Home Designer?


It makes me squirm a bit when folks hope to cut costs at the very start of a project on proper drawings and plans. You should at least consult with a licensed home designer or architect to explore your options in greater detail. They need not be expensive and can end up saving you small fortunes designing and building a home from scratch. They will have knowledge and access to contractors and inspectors you do not, just to start.

Existing plans are good starting points for ideas and simple floorplan programs like Sweet Home 3D (free, open source software) are great tools for exploring design options. The problem with modifying existing plans to meet local codes is that it takes an awful lot of time to dissect the plans and then adapt them. It is often faster and certainly more accurate to just start from scratch. They may end up costing you more in money and aggravation than original drawings.

Since you are exploring, why not look into some of the modern prefab options out there. It is a concept that makes sense. Look for books like "Prefabulous" and "Pre-Fab Mansions" for proof prefab does not have to look boxy. I am not sure highend prefabs end up an cheaper than sticks and stones construction but more money is available for details like finish carpentry since framing costs are much lower.


Last edited by user1007; 10-17-2012 at 06:03 AM.
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